July 28, 2021: July 28 is set aside to observe World Hepatitis Day 2021 with an aim to raise awareness of viral hepatitis, an inflammation of the liver that causes severe liver disease and hepatocellular cancer.
The ‘Why’ of World Hepatitis Day 2021
World Hepatitis Day 2021 is a clarion call for the world’s Hepatitis community to join hands and forces to create a Hepatitis free world by making it completely extinct. Today is also the day to celebrate the progress we have made, as well as take a full view of the challenges impending in the scenario and construe methods to fight.
The most important aim is to spread awareness and spark a focused and radical political change to jointly facilitate prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
Theme for World Hepatitis Day 2021
Statistics say that a person dies every 30 seconds from a hepatitis related illness and with the rising surge of Covid-19, while other diseases are hurled to the shadows, it is demanded to act quickly on viral hepatitis. The theme for World Hepatitis Day 2021 is “Hepatitis Can’t Wait” because,
1. Viral hepatitis patients, unaware of the impending danger, can’t wait for testing.
2. The patients battling viral hepatitis daily can’t wait for life saving treatments.
3. Expectant mothers can’t wait for hepatitis screening and treatment.
4. Newborn infants can’t wait birth dose vaccination against viral Hepatitis.
5. People in the clutches of Hepatitis can’t wait to destigmatise the disease and ease their interactions.
6. Community organisations can’t wait for greater investment in Hepatitis eradication.
7. Authorities can’t wait and must act now to eliminate hepatitis and the threat to life that comes with it through political will and funding.
The Hepatitis virus has five basic variants – A, B, C, D and E. Numbers say that hepatitis B and C are the most common, which put together result in 1.1 million deaths and 3 million new infections per year.
The different virus variants that play havoc on various parts of the globe
The aforementioned five hepatitis viruses – hepatitis A, hepatitis B, hepatitis C, hepatitis D, and hepatitis E – differ from each other and can spread in different ways, affect different populations, and result in different health outcomes.
Hepatitis A is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis A virus (HAV). This virus is found in the stool and blood of people who are infected. HAV is extremely contagious and it can be spread when someone unknowingly ingests the virus — even in microscopic amounts — through close personal contact with an infected person or through eating contaminated food or drink.
The post infection symptoms of hepatitis A can stretch up to 2 months and include fatigue, nausea, stomach pain, and jaundice. A relief however, is the fact that people with hepatitis A do not have long-lasting illness. The best way to prevent hepatitis A is to get vaccinated.
Hepatitis B is a vaccine-preventable liver infection caused by the hepatitis B virus (HBV). HBV is spread when blood, semen, or other body fluids of an infected person enters the body of someone who is not infected.
This is facilitated by sexual contact; sharing needles, syringes, or other drug-injection equipment; or from mother to baby at birth.
The challenge lies in the fact that, for HBV, not all newly infected people have symptoms carry symptoms, but for those that do, those can include fatigue, poor appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice. For many people, hepatitis B is a short-term illness. For others, it can become a long-term, chronic infection that can lead to serious, even life-threatening health issues like cirrhosis or liver cancer. The statistical quotient for chronic infection is related to age at infection: about 90% of infants with hepatitis B go on to develop chronic infection, whereas only 2%–6% of people who get hepatitis B as adults become chronically infected. The best way to prevent hepatitis B is to get vaccinated.
Hepatitis C is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis C virus (HCV). The Hepatitis C virus is carried only through contact with blood from an infected person.
Today, most people become infected with the hepatitis C virus by sharing needles or other equipment used to prepare and inject drugs. While for some it can prove a short-term illness, for more than half of people who become infected with the hepatitis C virus, it becomes a long-term, chronic infection. Chronic hepatitis C can build up to serious, even life-threatening health problems like cirrhosis and liver cancer.
People with chronic hepatitis C often have no symptoms and don’t feel sick. When symptoms appear, they often are a sign of advanced liver disease. There is no vaccine for hepatitis C. The best way to prevent hepatitis C is by avoiding behaviours that can spread the disease, especially injecting drugs. Getting tested for hepatitis C is important, because treatments can cure most people with hepatitis C in 8 to 12 weeks.
Hepatitis D, also known as “delta hepatitis,” is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis D virus (HDV). Peculiarly, Hepatitis D only occurs in people who are also infected with the hepatitis B virus. Hepatitis D is transferred when blood or other body fluids from a person infected with the virus enters the body of someone who is not infected. Hepatitis D can be an acute, short-term infection or become a long-term, chronic infection. This can cause severe symptoms and serious illness that can lead to life-long liver damage and even death.
People can become infected with both hepatitis B and hepatitis D viruses at the same time (known as “coinfection”) or get hepatitis D after first being infected with the hepatitis B virus (known as “superinfection”). There is no vaccine to prevent hepatitis D. However, prevention of hepatitis B with hepatitis B vaccine also protects against hepatitis D infection.
Hepatitis E is a liver infection caused by the hepatitis E virus (HEV). This, like Hepatitis A virus is found in the stool of an infected person. It is spread when someone unknowingly ingests the virus – even in microscopic amounts. Observed that in developing countries, people generally get hepatitis E virus from drinking water contaminated by faeces from people who are infected with the virus.
In the United States and other developed countries where hepatitis E is not common, people contracted with hepatitis E virus after eating raw or undercooked pork, venison, wild boar meat, or shellfish. In the past, most cases in developed countries involved people who have recently traveled to countries where hepatitis E is common.
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Symptoms of hepatitis E can include fatigue, poor appetite, stomach pain, nausea, and jaundice. However, many people with hepatitis E, especially young children, have no symptoms. Life threatening only for those with weakened immune systems, most people recover fully from the Hepatitis E disease without any complications. No vaccine for hepatitis E is currently available in the United States.